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The Advantage of Reading in the Original Language

Do you think the information you read in your language will be the same in another language? Most of you may not think about this question until it causes a problem. Mistranslation happens everywhere. It is due to the differences in expressing a concept across different languages. You say "take medicine" in English, "eat medicine" in Chinese, and "drink medicine" in Indonesian. Three phrases in three different languages mean the same.

Therefore, it is a task for a translator to understand the context before translating. A word-by-word translation is not recommended because context is the most important. Imagine yourself in a gathering. What do you say in your language when you want to give a toast to everyone? And now, try to translate that into the foreign languages you know.

That is why there is a saying you only can translate well into your native language. Because you grow up with that language so you know what sounds right. Yes, what sounds right, instead of what is translated right. Although you may have a different opinion saying that one can train itself to be proficient to the native level in a foreign language. That is true, but you will acquire that skill and knowledge through training instead of a natural experience.

Reading in the original language is advantageous, so a wrong translation will not mislead you. Some languages have many words for something that can be expressed more simply in another language. For example, the Inuit language has 50 words for snow, and Indonesian has different words for cooked and uncooked rice. This characteristic usually reflects what is important to the people of that language. So, snow is as essential to the Inuit people as rice is to the Indonesian people. 

I prefer to read in the original language to get the correct information from the point of view of native speakers. And there is no chance for mistranslation to occur and mislead me. Do you like to read in the original language?


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